Hyperdimension Neptunia is a role-playing game produced by Compile Heart with character designs done by Tsunako. The series takes place in a world known as a Gamindustri which parodies the real-life gaming industry. The franchise follows characters that act as the representations of gaming consoles, gaming companies, and even games themselves.
The first installment of the series premiered in Japan in 2010 for the PlayStation 3 and was soon localized by NIS America for markets in North America, Europe, and Australia. Since then, Hyperdimension Neptunia games have been subsequently localized and have produced games not only for the PlayStation 3, but also for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita with a number of main series titles, spin-offs, and remakes. Aside from the console and handheld titles, the Hyperdimension Neptunia series is also present in the mobile market with three apps, one of them being a Mobile Card game, and even has an anime series and OVA.
The first installment of the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise. Hyperdimension Neptunia follows the story of Neptune, who has become an amnesiac after being defeated by the other Console Patron Units (CPUs) in a 3-on-1 match and being banished from Celestia to the world below. It is then that she hears the call of Histoire, requesting for her help before waking up and finding herself in the nurse-in-training's apartment who goes by the name of Compa. Neptune embarks on a journey to save Gamindustri by collecting the Key Fragments to free Histoire and defeating the former goddess known as Arfoire.
The second installment of the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise and a reboot of the very first game. Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 follows the story of Nepgear who is the CPU Candidate of Planeptune and also the younger sister of the first game's main character, Neptune. Nepgear accompanies the CPUs to the Gamindusti Graveyard to fight against CFW Magic but they are all overwhelmed by her incredible power and ultimately lose. They are all held captive in the Gamindustri Graveyard for three years until Compa and IF arrive on a rescue mission to save Nepgear and the others but end up only being able to save Nepgear. The CPU Candidate of Planeptune goes off on a journey to gain the help of the Mascot Characters and the other CPU Candidates so they can save the CPUs and Gamindustri from the threat of both the Arfoire Syndicate of International Crime and Arfoire herself.
The third installment of the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise and the sequel to Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2. Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory follows Neptune, who has regained her title as the main character. Neptune finds herself thrown into alternate Gamindustri after a run-in with the representative of the Citizens Group that opposes goddess-rule. In this alternate dimension known as the Ultra Dimension, she meets the counterparts of the CPUs from her own dimension and assists them in dealing with the Seven Sages and eventually saving both of their worlds.
The fourth main installment of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series and sequel to Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory follows Neptune and Nepgear into the Zero Dimension for the first third of the game. During which, they meet Uzume Tennouboshi and assist her with her nemesis, the Dark CPU. For the next third of the game, the game follows each of the 4 CPUs as they deal with the Gamindustri Rewrite. The final part of the game consists of the cast venturing into the Heart Dimension to discover the cause of all their problems and save Gamindustri once and for all.
Quite a bit of changes have occurred to the game from Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory and the remakes. Dungeons now include destructible items. A new kind of dungeon known as Neplunker was introduced. The battle system has a greater focus on weapon selection and certain combo chains. There are more status ailments. A new cast of characters, such as the Gold Third, is also introduced in this game.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 follows the same story of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia game but with a completely new plot and even the Maker characters from Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory to replace the original ones. Another key difference is that Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 uses Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory's gameplay system, but with a few unique quirks of its own.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: SISTERS GENERATION is virtually the same as Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2. It generally follows the same exact story and plot, but with the Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Maker characters replacing the majority of the ones from the original title. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 also uses the same gameplay system as Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation is virtually the same as Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory in terms of story. Makers such as Cave and RED appear as well as Oracles alongside the rest of the Victory maker cast. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3 uses a battle system similar to Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory's, but with the SP and EXE Drive meters merged into a single meter capped at 1,000, as well as the ability for Makers and Oracles to go into an Awakened state.
The first spin-off title for the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. It follows you, the player, as a male producer who finds himself in the world of Gamindustri. Due to the sudden idol boom, the growing interest in pop stars has caused a decrease in the CPUs' shares. In order to combat this, the CPUs become idols themselves and it is up to the player to decide which goddess they will become the producer for and make the number one idol in all of Gamindustri.
The second spin-off title for the Hyperdimension Neptunia series that features Noire as the leading character and you, the player, as her secretary. Unlike the previous Neptunia titles, this game doesn't take place in Gamindustri but rather a world called Gamarket. The four CPUs continue to fight one another without end for the right to rule over the world. When Noire was about to end the war and stand victorious, something happened. The CPUs' powers were taken away by an unknown force. This sudden shift in power caused the world to grow even more chaotic. To regain peace and order, the CPUs decided to team up once again.
The third spin-off title for the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. In contrast to the previous games, this Hyperdimension Neptunia title is an action game that takes place in a world that looks similar to that of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1, but is, in fact, separate from that game. Due to the goddesses being powerful enough to defeat any monster without a problem, Gamindustri has become extremely boring for them. That is until something comes along that strikes their interests, and thus setting a new story in motion.
Dimensions are a recurring theme in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. While the apparent main dimension of the series as a whole is the Hyper Dimension, numerous other dimensions have been introduced in the main series and spin-offs collectively. The dimensions are always mostly similar in the sense of the people who inhabit them but tend to have different rules and semi-different geographical makeup.
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 takes place in the Hyper Dimension. While the mythology surrounding the origin of the goddesses is mostly the same but with some differences (such as how the goddesses are born in the first place) the way of life regarding the CPUs' role in the lives of their people and the development of their nation, the geography, and the addition of CPU Candidates is what sets them apart.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory has the Hyper Dimension but also introduces the Ultra Dimension which is mostly similar to the Hyper Dimension from Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 in terms of inhabitants (with the exception of Plutia), nations, and overall geography. However, the rules for becoming a goddess in the Ultra Dimension are different from the Hyper Dimension. While CPUs are born as goddesses in the Hyper Dimension, in the Ultra Dimension humans must use a CPU Memory to become a goddess. They are then able to transform and form their own nations which are different from the Hyper Dimension since the nations are formed by the people and not the CPUs.
Hyperdevotion Noire Goddess Black Heart features a different dimension that doesn't even have a Gamindustri like the previous worlds before it. The world in this game is known as Gamarket and still has the usual four nations of Planeptune, Lastation, Leanbox, and Lowee, and also the same goddesses. However, instead of Makers, who personify gaming companies, they have Military Commanders who represent individual video game franchises.
Shares are a recurring theme in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. Shares are the people's faith in the Goddesses. Despite the plot relevance of shares, they do not actually affect the combat strength of the playable Goddesses.
In Hyperdimension Neptunia, shares were a relatively hidden feature, where the player completes quests to transfer shares from one landmass to another. If the party is knocked out, permanently 1% of the shares is lost. This feature allows one to recruit other CPUs to access different endings.
In Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2, shares have a much bigger role. Due to pervasive effects of ASIC, the Goddesses lost a lot of shares and were weakened too much to defeat them. Shares can also be crystallized as a Share Crystal. The point of the game is to regain shares as well as to rescue the Goddesses.
In Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, shares also play a role in the story by showing off new nations. Shares shift dramatically since people have more options and Goddesses to support. There are also devices to artificially generate shares.
The games typically have several types of screens, or modes of interaction, broadly categorized as:
- Town screens - Town screens are where the player can do everything from shopping, getting quests or gathering information. The first Hyperdimension Neptunia featured a menu town screen that gave the options to either gather information, travel to dungeons and other lands, or go to the shop. Gamipics were created for the Chirper system in Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 to act as chibi visuals for the residents of each of the nations. While Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory did not use the Chirper system, it emulated towns by allowing the player to use their 8-bit cursor of Neptune to click on the Gamipics of the residents and see what they have to say as well as to use it to utilize the town's facilities.
- Field screens - The field screen is where the player can run around using the 3D model of the character. The field screen is only visible when in a dungeon, where the player can perform actions with the character. In Hyperdimension Neptunia, each character has their own unique dungeon skill which can help them proceed through the area. However, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 introduced Symbol Attacks which allow the player to strike the enemy on the field screen and initiate a preemptive attack. Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 also removed the dungeon skills from the first game with the exception of item search. In Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, the jump feature was introduced and it allows the player to jump over elevations on the field and also on them.
- Battle screens - Battles typically occur on a separate screen that acts as the arena. The battle area will more often than not have the scenery of wherever the battle is taking place. However, there are some instances during special event battles that the location of the battle screen does not match the location of where the battle is actually taking place.
- World Map - The world map is used for navigating around Gamindustri to travel to towns and dungeons. In Hyperdimension Neptunia, the World Map was a 3D overview of each nation's landmass and its dungeons. The player could select the dungeons and travel to them or head to other nations. This system was removed in the reboot, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2, which featured an 8-bit cursor of the main character and a 2D overview of Gamindustri's world map. From there the player could travel to towns and dungeons by hovering over them with the cursor.
- Cutscenes - These scenes are non-interactive playback that usually advance the plot. Cutscenes in Hyperdimension Neptunia are primarily visual novel-based that prompts the player to advance through the text while viewing the characters breathe and move with AAS (Active Animation System), where 2D portraits move as 3D models. Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 introduced a different type of cutscene that is executed in the same engine as the field screen and displays the 3D models moving around instead of the 2D visual novel style breathing bodies.
- Menu screen - This screen is used for navigating your party's status, equipment, skills, etc. You can also save or load your game from here. The menu screen's design varies based on the general color scheme and theme of the game.
Hyperdimension Neptunia uses a third-person, turn-based battle system. The series utilizes an experience level system for character advancement and the battles use a "Turn-Based Battle System". The first Hyperdimension Neptunia game uses an AP (Action Points) combo-based combat system in which the player sets attacks to certain button combinations to form combos. When the player runs out of AP they can no longer attack.
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2's system was a refined version of Hyperdimension Neptunia's system. It evolved into a menu-driven, third-person, free-roam Turn-Based battle system that utilized both AP and SP (Skill Points). The combo system was also refined and introduced three categories of attacks; Rush attacks (for increasing SP), Heavy Hit/Power attacks (for more power damage) and Break attacks (to lower the enemy's guard gauge). Each of these categories belongs to three buttons and range over three tiers. By setting up skills to the corresponding button, the player is able to switch between these three categories at will during their turn. If the player still has AP leftover from the first combo, they are granted the chance to attack or use another action within the same turn.
In Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, the battle system from Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 was refined even further, using the same general concept but getting rid of AP in favor of CP (Combo Points). CP allows the player to setup combos using the same categories from Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2, based on how much CP the character has, which they obtain from leveling up. Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory also introduced the EXE Drive which the player can charge by attacking the enemy. The EXE Drive has 4 tiers and whenever a tier is reached the player can use an EX Finish skill at the end of a normal combo or use an EXE Drive Skill if enough of the EXE Drive is filled.